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Prevalence Study on Tick Infestations of Goat in Lower Shivalik Region of Uttarakhand

Arumugam Gopalakrishnan Umesh Dimri Abhijit Nandi Yesudasan Ajith Vivek Joshi Ricky Jhambh Mohammad Iqbal Yatoo
Vol 7(7), 158-165

The present study was aimed to find out the prevalence rate of tick infestation of goats in the lower Shivalik region of Dehradun and Tehri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand during the summer season from March to June, 2016. The overall prevalence rate of tick infestation was observed 72.11%. In study area, 3 tick species were identified which are Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus (47.11%), Haemaphysalis spp (16.34%) and Hyalomma spp (8.65%). The most common tick’s predilection sites on the goat body surface were observed on the ears (53.57%) followed by anus & external genitalia (14.58%) and around eyes (6.25%). The intensity of tick infested goat in study area was observed high infestation (54.16%). High prevalence of tick infestation in the study area during summer warrants the need for formulating appropriate intervention strategies to improve control of tick infestation and awareness among goat farmers.

Keywords : Prevalence Tick infestations Goat Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus Haemaphysalis spp Hyalomma spp


Goats (Capre hircus) play an important role for smallholder farmers they can maintain a valuable economic and ecological niche in Asian agriculture (Devendra, 1996). They are called as the poor man’s cow. Small ruminants are reared mostly by the poor and marginalized farmers, an important livestock species in India and other developing countries (World Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2012). Ticks are one of the important blood-feeding, obligate ectoparasites of vertebrates, specifically mammals and birds (Furman and Loomis, 1984). Approximately, 899 tick species are identified in vertebrates among that 713 species of Ixodidae, 185 species of Argasidae and one species of Nuttalliellidae (Klompen et al., 1996). Ectoparasitism especially tick infestation causes hypoproteinemia, anemia, reduced growth rate, poor production performances (Taylor et al., 2007) and immune suppression in the infected host animals (Gwakisa et al., 2001). Ticks are a voracious type of blood-feeding behavior which resulting in lowered productivity and also it act as a vector for various agents of diseases in both human beings and livestock (Cumming, 1998). It transmits various infectious agent like protozoan (Celep, 1982), bacterial (Webster and Mitchell, 1986) and rickettsial (Krauss et al., 1987) to their hosts. Ticks bite on the host may lead to inflammation and irritation on the skin at the sites of their attachment causing cutaneous abrasions and leading to damage hide resulting in reduction of the quality and value of leather up to 20-30% (Gharbi et al., 2006). Tick bites can mostly to sensitive areas of skin like vagina, teats, ear, eyes etc.

Tick infestations causes huge economic loss in worldwide. During 1984, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) was assessed the global cost of Ixodidae tick infestations to be $US 7.0 billion annually. In different parts of South Asia, the prevalence study of ectoparasitism was observed among goats (Sarkar et al., 2010 and Iqbal et al., 2014). In India, the prevalence and factors associated with ectoparasitism were evaluated in goats of two different agro-climatic regions (Ajith et al., 2017). Incidence and prevalence of ixodid ticks on goats in South India were studied by Prakasan and Ramani, 2007; Soundararajan et al., 2014 and Vathsala et al., 2008). However, no studies had been carried out that that the prevalence studies of tick infestation on goats in lower Shivalik region of Uttarakhand. Therefore, this paper deals with to identify tick species and to determine their prevalence in that specific area.

Materials and Methods

Study Area

This study was conducted in the lower Shivalik region of Dehradun and Tehri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand (India) which is located at average elevation of 600 to 1550 m above mean sea level, having latitude of Dehradun (30.32◦N, 78.03◦E) and Tehri Garhwal (30.30◦N, 78.57◦E) with humid subtropical and temperate climate with heavy rain fall during monsoon season.

Study Animals and Clinical Evaluation

The prevalence survey was conducted during the summer season from March to June, 2016. Animals were screened by stratified random sampling from the villages of lower Shivalik region, Dehradun and Tehri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. A total of 312 goats (107 male and 205 female) were screened for ectoparasitic infestation from specific study area of Uttarakhand. Animals were selected from farmers rearing goats of different age, sex and body condition categories. The age of animals was categorized as young (< 12 weeks) and adult (>12 weeks). Based on total no of ticks, the severity of infestation was graded as healthy (none), Low (1–3), moderate (4-10) and high (>10) (Marchiondo et al., 2006).

Tick Collection and Identification

The entire bodies of individual animals were thoroughly inspected for presence of tick infestation and associated clinical signs. All visible different stage of ticks (larva, nymph, adult) were collected with help of fine forceps and to confirm that the mouth parts of ticks were not left behind embedded tissue. Ticks were collected and stored in tubes containing 70% alcohol as perseverate. Identification of morphological characteristics of collected ticks was carried out by use of stereomicroscope using identification keys set by Wall and Shearer (1997) and Soulsby (1982).

Statistical Analysis

The data was analyzed by use of Microsoft Excel spreadsheet 2007 and SPSS 16.0. Descriptive statistics such as percentage were used to summarize prevalence of tick infestation and associations between explanatory variables (age, sex and body condition score) and prevalence was analyzed using χ2 test. The differences were considered as significant when P<0.05 at 95% confidence intervals (Snedecor and Cochran, 1994).


Total Prevalence and Different Species of Tick’s Infestation

In the present study, 312 goats were examined, in which 225 goats (72.11%) were showed positive, infested with different species of ticks. Remaining 87 goats (27.88%) were showed positive, not infested with any type of tick species (Table 1).

Table 1: Total prevalence and species based tick infestation in 312 goats

Tick Species Number of Goats Infested Prevalence (%)
R. (B.) microplus 147 47.11*
Haemaphysalis spp 51 16.34
Hyalomma spp 27 8.65
Total tick infestation (infested) 225 72.11
No tick infestation (healthy) 87 27.88

Values with superscript * represents statistical significant difference (p<0.05)

In this study, 3 different tick species were identified which are R. (B.) microplus (Fig. 1), Haemaphysalis spp (Fig. 2) and Hyalomma spp (Fig. 3). Out of this tick species, the high tick infestation was caused by R. (B.) microplus (47.11%), Haemaphysalis spp (16.34%) andHyalomma spp (8.65%) (Table1). The present study showed high statistical difference (p>0.05) in the prevalence of R. (B.) microplus infestation as compared with other tick species infestation.

Gopal K 1.jpg Gopal K 2.jpg
Fig. 1: Morphological characteristics of R. (B.) microplus, having Adanal and accessory adanal plates, caudal process and 1st coxa is notched ventrally (arrow) Fig.2: Morphological characteristics of Haemaphysalis spp, having second article of the pedipalp projects laterally (arrow)
Gopal K 3.jpg
Fig. 3: Morphological characteristics of Hyalomma spp, having long rostrum and festoons are present (arrow)

Age and Sex Wise Distribution of Tick Infestation in Goats

Approximately, 109 young and 203 adults of goats were examined. The overall distribution of tick’s infestation in the adult and young age groups was 73.89% and 68.80%, respectively. However, the present study showed no statistical difference (p>0.05) in the distribution of the different species of ticks infestation between the two age categories (Table 2). About 107 male and 205 female sexes of goats were observed. The overall distribution of tick’s infestation in the male and female sexes was 71.02% and 72.68%, respectively. There was no statistical difference (p>0.05) in the prevalence rate of the tick’s infestation between male and female sex groups. In both sexes R. (B.) microplus was the dominant tick species (Table 2).

Table 2: Age and Sex wise distribution of tick infestation in 312 goats

Sex Age Animals screened R. (B.) microplus Haemaphysalis spp Hyalomma spp No tick infestation
Male Young 23 9 (39.13%) 3 (13.04%) 2 (8.69%) 9 (39.13%)
Adult 84 41 (49.39%) 15 (17.85%) 6 (7.14%) 22 (26.19%)
Subtotal 107 50 (46.72%) 18 (16.82%) 8 (7.47%) 31 (28.97%)
Female Young 86 39 (45.34%) 14 (16.27%) 8 (9.30%) 25 (29.06%)
Adult 119 58 (48.73%) 19 (15.96%) 11 (9.24%) 31 (26.05%)
Subtotal 205 97 (47.31%) 33 (16.09%) 19 (9.26%) 56 (27.31%)
Grand total 312 147(47.11%) 51 (16.34%) 27 (8.65%) 87 (27.88%)

More Common Predilection Sites of Tick Infestation in Goats

In this study, the most common ticks predilection sites on the animal body surface was observed on the ears (53.57%) followed by around eyes (6.25%), neck & chest (3.12%), anus & external genitalia (14.58%), udder & testes (5.20%), thighs (2.08%), under tail & perineum (7.29%) and all over the body (2.08%)(Table 3).

Table 3: Percentage (%) of tick infestation in different body parts of examined animals

Body Parts Number of Tick’s Infested Percentage (%)
Both the ear 45 53.57*
Around eyes 6 6.25
Neck & chest 3 3.12
Anus & external genitalia 14 14.58
Udder & testes 5 5.2
Thighs (inner) 2 2.08
Under the Tail & perineum 7 7.29
All over the body 2 2.08
Total number infested 84 100

Values with superscript * represents statistical significant difference (p<0.05)

The highest number of ticks on animals’ body surface was found in the ear and anus (Fig. 4a) & external genitalia (Fig. 4b). Significant (P < 0.05) high in tick predilection sites on ears was observed in tick infestation goats as compared with other body surface tick predilection sites.

Intensity of Tick Infestation in Study Area

The overall 312 goats were examined in study area; out of that the prevalence of tick infestation intensity was high (54.16%), moderate (15.06%) and low (2.88%). About 87 goats were showed no tick infestation (27.88%) (Table 4). In this study area, high intensity of tick infestation in goats showed high significant differences (p<0.05) with respective medium and low intensity of tick infestation groups.

Gopal K 4.jpg +Gopal K 5.jpg
Fig. 4: Predilection sites of tick infestation in goats (4a-Ear, 4b-Anal region)

Table 4: Intensity of tick infestation in 312 goats

Grade Number of Ticks/Animal Number of Goats Infested Prevalence (%)
0 (Healthy) None 87 27.88
1 (Low) 1–3 9 2.88
2 (Moderate) 4–10 47 15.06
3 (High) >10 169 54.16*

Values with superscript * represents statistical significant difference (p<0.05)


Ticks are the most important vectors of disease agents affecting livestock and leading to a huge economic loss in small animal husbandry. In this study area, the total prevalence of ticks was recorded 72.11% in goats during the summer season from March to June. Our study finding is similar to that of previous work done in India by Prakasan and Ramani (2007) in Kerala (74.73%), Vathsala et al. (2008) in Tamil Nadu (97.66%) and Soundararajan et al. (2014) in Tamilnadu (72.73%). In this study area, we have identified 3 different tick species in goats which are R. (B.) microplus (47.11%), Haemaphysalis spp (16.34%) and Hyalomma spp (8.65%). Our study area, the goats were infected mostly by R. (B.) microplus which uses normally cattle as natural host. However, this report is similar to the previous report of Nyangiwe and Horak (2007) who documented that goat as alternative hosts of cattle ticks. R. (B.) microplus is only found on other animals provided infested cattle are present at the same locality.

This study suggested that all adult and young or male and female sex goats are equally susceptible to the identified tick infestation. This finding similar to previous report of Endale (2006) and Onu and Shiferaw (2013) who documented that no statistically significant difference (p>0.05) in the prevalence of ticks between the different sex, age, and body condition score categories. Nonetheless, this finding is contrary to Mohammad Yakhchali and Ali Hosseine (2006) who reported that high tick infestation on female (78.10%) than male (21.90%) animals. Also, this author documented that young animal severely infected (83.87%) followed by adults (71.43%). This variation is due to relate to the management system where animals are permitted to graze together in communal fields in the mixed farming system of the study area.

The present study, the ear is more prone predilection sites to tick infestation (53.57%) followed by anus & external genitalia (14.58%). This might be one of the reasons for that the attachment of tick is reliant on the temperature and the thickness of the skin of the animal (Feldman and Borut, 1983). The temperature of whole body skin was 35°C whereas that of the ear was 25°C (Tukahirwa, 1976). This could be a reason amongst others for the presence of almost 70% of ticks in the ear. Our study was conducted during the summer season from March to June. So this could be a reason most of goats showing high intensity tick infestation (54.16%).


The study revealed that tick infestation in goats was very high intensity during the summer season in Dehradun and Tehri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand (India). The problem may lead to generous morbidity, various disease transmission, decrease skin/hide quality and finally significant economic loss. It is suggested that the need awareness about periodic and strategic ectoparasites control programme to livestock farmer.


This research work was funded under SARTHI scheme by Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. Authors are sincerely thankful to Animal Husbandry Department, Uttarakhand and Director, ICAR-IVRI, Bareilly for providing all necessary facilities for this study.

Conflicts of Interest

There is no conflict of interest.


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